HIS PROFOUND HUMILITY.
    From The Portrait of St. Paul:
    Or, The True Model for Christians and Pastors

    Translated by Rev. John Gilpin
    from a French manuscript of
    Rev. John William De La Flechere, Vicar of Madeley,
    better known by his Anglicized name, John Fletcher.
HIS PROFOUND HUMILITY. From The Portrait of St. Paul: Or, The True Model for Christians and Pastors
Translated by Rev. John Gilpin from a French manuscript of Rev. John William De La Flechere, Vicar of Madeley, better known by his Anglicized name, John Fletcher. .
ONE METHODIST VOL. 2 NO. 04 DECEMBER 1999

Editor: Although this article is written primarily to members of the clergy, it is equally applicable to all Christians. At the time this article was picked, I didn't realize how well it compliments last month's newsletter. One Methodist

I. Portrait of St. Paul

TRAIT XI.

There is no evil disposition of the heart, with which the clergy are so frequently reproached, as pride. And it is with reason that we oppose this sinful temper, especially when it appears in pastors, since it is so entirely contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, that the Apostle Paul emphatically terms it, "The condemnation of the devil," 1 Tim. iii, 6.

There is no amiable disposition which our Lord more strongly recommended to his followers, than lowliness of mind. From his birth to his death, he gave himself a striking example of the most profound humility, joined to the most ardent charity. After having washed the feet of his first disciples, that is, after he had taken the place of a slave at their feet, he addressed them as follows:-"Know ye what I have done unto you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord; neither he that is sent, greater than he that sent him," John xiii, 12-16. Again he says to the same effect, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister," Mark x, 42; ii, 45.

Real Christianity is the school of humble charity, in which every true minister can say, with Christ, according to his growth in grace, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." And unhappy will it be for those who, reversing Christianity, say, by their example, which is more striking, than all their discourses, "Learn of us to be fierce and revengeful, at the expense of peace both at home and abroad." They who receive the stipends of ministers, while they are thus endeavouring to subvert the religion they profess to support, render themselves guilty, not only of hypocrisy, but of a species of sacrilege.

It is supposed that St. Peter had the pre-eminence among the apostles, at least by his age: it is certain that he spake in the name of the other apostles, that he first confessed Christ in two public orations; that our Lord conferred favours upon him; that he was permitted to be one of the three witnesses of his Master's transfiguration and agony; and that on the day of pentecost he proved the power of his apostolic commission, by introducing three thousand souls at once into the kingdom of Christ. Far, however, from arrogating, upon these accounts, a spiritual supremacy over his brethren, he assumed no other title but that which was given in common to all his fellow labourers in the ministry: "The elders which are among you," says he, "I exhort, who am also an elder: feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock," 1 Peter v, 1, 3. A piece of advice this, which is too much neglected by those prelates who distinguish themselves from their brethren, yet more by an anti-christian pride, than by those ecclesiastical dignities to which they have made their way by the intrigues of ambition.

All pastors should seek after humility with so much the greater concern, since some among them, seduced with the desire of distinguishing themselves as persons of eminence in the Church, after making certain ecclesiastical laws contrary to the word of God, have become persecutors of those who refused submission to their tyrannical authority. Observe here the injustice of some modern philosophers, who, misrepresenting the Christian religion, a religion which breathes nothing but humility and love, set it forth as the cause of all the divisions, persecutions, and massacres, which have ever been fomented or perpetrated by its corrupt professors. Disasters, which, far from being the produce of real Christianity, have their principal source in the vices of a supercilious, uncharitable, and anti-christian clergy.

The Church will always be exposed to these imputations, till every ecclesiastic shall imitate St. Paul, as he imitated Christ. That apostle, ever anxious to tread in the steps of his Divine Master, was peculiarly distinguished by his humility to God and man. Ever ready to confess his own native poverty, and to magnify the riches of his grace, he cries out, "Who is sufficient for these things?" Who is properly qualified to discharge all the functions of the holy ministry? "Such trust have we in Christ to Godward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God, who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament: not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life," 2 Cor. ii, 16; iii, 4, 6. "Who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by who ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then, neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth: but God that giveth the increase," 1 Cor. iii, 5,7. "I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle: but by the grace of God I am what I am," 1 Cor. xv, 9. "God hath shined in

our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ: but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us," 2 Cor. iv, 6,7.

If the humility of St. Paul is strikingly evident in these remarkable passages, it is still more strongly expressed in those that follow:-"Ye see, brethren, that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence," 1 Cor. i, 26,29. "Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, who am nothing, who am the chief of sinners, is this grace given, that I should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ," Eph. iii, 2; 2 Cor. xii; 1 Tim. i, 15.

Reader, if thou hast that opinion of thyself, which is expressed in the foregoing passages, thou art an humble Christian. Thou canst truly profess thyself the servant of all those who salute thee; thou art such already by charitable intentions, and art seeking occasions of demonstrating, by actual services, that thy tongue is the organ, not of an insidious politeness, but of a sincere heart. Like a true disciple of Christ, who concealed himself when the multitude would have raised him to a throne, and who presented himself, when they came to drag him to his cross, thou hast a sacred pleasure in humbling thyself before God and man, and art anxious, without hypocrisy or affectation, to take the lowest place among thy brethren.

The humble Christian, convinced of his wants and his weakness, feels it impossible to act like those proud and bashful poor, who will rather perish in their distress, than solicit the assistance of their brethren. St. Paul had nothing of this false modesty about him. Penetrated with a deep sense of his unworthiness and insufficiency, after imploring for himself the gracious assistance of God, he thus humbly solicits the prayers of all the faithful:-"Brethren, pray for us," 1 Thess. V, 25. " I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together in your prayers for me," Rom. Xv, 30. "Pray always for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly as I ought to speak," Eph. vi,18, 19. "You also [continuing] to help by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many on our behalf," 2 Cor. i, 11.

Thus humility, or poverty of spirit, which is set forth by Christ as the first beatitude, leads us, by prayer, to all the benedictions of the Gospel, and to that lively gratitude which gives birth to thanksgiving and joy. Lovely humility! penetrate the hearts of all Christians, animate every pastor, give peace to the Church, and happiness to the universe.


QUOTE UNQUOTE

And yet what are all the absurd opinions of all the Romanists in the world compared to that one, that the God of love, the wise, just, merciful Father of the spirits of all flesh, has from all eternity fixed an absolute, unchangeable, irresistible decree that part of mankind shall be saved, do what they will, and the rest damned, do what they can! -- John Wesley (1703-1791)

Of all gossiping, religious gossiping is the worst; it adds hypocrisy to uncharitableness, and effectually does the work of the devil in the name of the Lord. -- John Wesley (1703-1791)


The editor, while agreeing with the content presented in this newsletter, does not necessarily endorse all of a writer's works, doctrines, etc. The editor is solely responsible for all mistakes.


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